Rice's Crossing Community Historical Marker Williamson County, Texas

Marker Text

(1815 - about 1875) South Carolina-born James O. Rice migrated to Texas by 1835 and served in the Texas Army during the War for Independence. In early days of the Republic of Texas, he protected frontier settlements as part of a Texas Ranger company. On May 17, 1839, in command of a volunteer force clashing with Mexican troops led by Manuel Flores on the North San Gabriel River, Rice captured vitally important documents related to the Cordova Rebellion against the Republic of Texas. He joined the Somervell and Mier Expeditions of 1842 and the Snively Expedition of 1843. He also served in the Mexican War (1846-48). For military services, he received several bounties of land. When Williamson County was created in 1848, Rice was one of the commissioners named to select a site for the county seat. One of the county's largest landowners, Rice built his home on Brushy Creek about one mile west of here at a site then known as Blue Hill and later called Rice's Crossing. He ran a store and was postmaster of Blue Hill post office, 1849-57. For a short time, he had a tanyard in Georgetown. Rice married Nancy D. Gilliland (d. 1860), of an early Texas family. The couple had four daughters. Rice is buried in the Sneed Family Cemetery near Austin.

Google Map

GPS coordinates 
Latitude: 30.480022, Longitude: -97.458484

Address: SE corner of FM 973 and FM 1660.


Rice's Crossing is on Brushy Creek at the intersection of Farm roads 973 and 1660, six miles southwest of Taylor in southeast Williamson County. It was settled by E. B. Barker, Willis Avery, and William McCutcheon in 1845 and was first called Blue Hill, for the color of the shale bank of Brushy Creek at the crossing. Blue Hill was granted the second post office in Williamson County in 1849. The post office was discontinued in 1857 and reopened in 1872 as Rice's Crossing. The new name came from James O. Rice, a Texas Ranger and an early settler in the area. In 1884 Rice's Crossing had 100 inhabitants, three churches, a school, and three gins and shipped cotton, oats, corn, and pecans. Eight years later the town had a population of 200, a hotel, a doctor, and a lawyer. The school at Rice's Crossing had forty pupils in 1903; it was consolidated with the Coupland and Taylor schools in 1950. The community declined in the early twentieth century, losing its post office in 1906 and falling to a population of twenty-five in 1933. From 1947 to 1990 the population was reported as 100.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Clara Stearns Scarbrough, Land of Good Water: A Williamson County History (Georgetown, Texas: Williamson County Sun Publishers, 1973). by Mark Odintz

James O. Rice - A Texas Revolutionary Hero

James O. Rice, born in South Carolina in 1815, came to Texas by 1836, when he was with Tumlinson's Rangers, who built Block House (Tumlinson) Fort south of Leander in Jan. 1836, was stationed there until called to service in the Revolution. He was ordered to San Jacinto but arrived after the battle was fought. He was at Kenney Fort be­tween 1838 and 1844 and often engaged in military activities. Some historians credit one of the most important events in early Texas history as that unit of Texas Rangers, commanded by Lt. Rice, searching in May 1839 for Manuel Flores, a Mexican spy, and the event of May 15, 1839, when Rice and his 17 Rangers cornered Flores on the south bank of the North San Gabriel River, killed several of the Mexicans in battle, including Flores, and captured their supplies and camp equipage.

In the baggage was found correspondence between Flores, the government of Mexico, and the Indians, plotting the massacre of all white people north and west of the Old San Antonio Road.

Rice helped repel several Indian attacks on Kenney Fort, was in the Somervell and Mier Expeditions of 1842, in the Snively Expedition of 1843.

In 1846, settled at a place called Blue Hill (later Rice's Crossing) on Brushy Creek. In 1848, he and Washington Anderson helped circulate the petition to form Williamson County, signed the petition, was one of the Commissioners appointed by the State Legislature to locate the county seat. Was postmaster at Blue Hill in 1849, the second post office in the county. His wife, Nancy D. Rice, who was born in Texas in 1825, died about 1860, leaving a two-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, for whom Rice appointed a guardian so that he could rejoin the Texas Rangers. Operated a tan-yard between the two forks of the San Gabriel about 1864, died before 1900, and was buried in Georgetown.


One of best-known early trails across the county, laid out by Delaware Indians c. 1828, was traveled annually by them from east Texas to Mexico; later traveled by Texas Rangers, who had a camp where the trail crossed the San Gabriel River near Towns mill; also traveled by early settlers, explorers, and by military expeditions, including Santa Fe Expedition. The trail crossed the Colorado River near Webberville, east of Austin; crossed Brushy Creek at Kenney Fort, passed just below the old railroad bridge near Palm Valley, then by the Freeman Smalley graveyard, went west of Mankin's Crossing to where Towns Mill dam was built and there crossed the San Gabriel. Some marks of this old worn trail remained after 1900--called "double" because two horsemen rode it side by side.


Historical narrative by Mara S. Scarbrough,
Georgetown, August 1, 1976

James 0. Rice, one of the founders and early citizens of Williamson County, was a member of ore of the first three Texas Ranger companies formed in Texas; he served in the Texas Revolutionary War and in the War with Mexico, in which he won particular distinction for his military leadership; was the 2nd postmaster in Williamson County and the namesake of the community where he lived.

On the 1848 petition to form Williamson County, Rice wrote his name as James 0. Rice. [1] He is Likewise listed in the records of the Texas Rangers, the U. S. Census of County for 1850 and 1860, in marriage, bounty, donation, and probate records, in land deeds, and by early historians. The name was frequently abbreviated to Jas. 0. Rice. It occasionally appeared as James Rice, as In the U. S. Census of Travis County of 1870 and in the Republic of Texas Census of 1840. The form J. 0. Rice was infrequently used.

James 0. Rice apparently was born either Sept. 13, 14, 15, or 16, of 1815, as determined from U. S. Census records. He was listed as age 35 on Sept. 16, 1850; age 44, July 20, 1860, and age 54 on Sept. 12, 1870.

Two clues suggest that James C. Rice died in 1875: [1] The Colorado Citizen of Columbus, Texas, June 22, 1876, contained this item, "Enclosed I send you a list as reported at the Veteran [sic] Association at Austin on the 21st of April, of those who were reported as having died since our last annual meeting. . .[including] James 0. Rice. . . ." [2] Frank Brown wrote in 1901; "James O. Rice. . . lived. In Travis and Williamson Counties from 1836, or earlier, to the time of his death, about twenty-five years ago." [2] He was buried in the Sneed Family Cemetery at Corral Buff, near Buff Springs, Austin. the grave is not marked by a headstone but with a simple stone with Rice's initials carved upon it. [3]

Rice was connected to the Sneed family through his third daughter’s marriage.

She was Almeda Melissa Rice, who married Newton Owen Sneed on Dec. 25, 1870. [4] (written Snead on the marriage license) Between 1870 and 1875, records indicate Rice was attempt­ing to put his financial affairs in order and that his health was failing. The last date on this group of records is July 15, 1874. The previous month, two Austin doctors examined Rice and stated in writing that he could not perform physical labor because of a double inguinal hernia. [5]

No obituary has been located in the files of the Austin Daily Democratic Statesman or of the Austin weekly Democratic Statesmen of 1875, or of the first four months of 1876.

Both the 1850 and 1870 U. S. Census records list Rice's native state South Carolina; the 1860 Census gives Illinois. South Carolina is probably correct. (The 1790 census of South Carolina shows 25 heads of families named Rice, including two named James Rice. the Illinois census for 1810 lists only three heads of families carrying the Rice name. [6]

Janes 0. Rice and Nancy D. Gilliland were married on Nov. 5, 1846, in Travis County by an Austin Justice of the Peace. J. Hotchkiss. [7] Nancy was the daughter of James and Diana Gilliland (the name is also spelled Gilleland), members of Austin's Colony. This means the Gilliland’s could have been in Texas by 1821, certainly by 1825, for Raney was 25 years old in 1850 and was born in Texas. [8]

The Gillilands were substantial people for that time.

He was a Methodist minister, owned a large tract of land on the Colorado River between Webberville and; Hornshy's Bend, and in 1840 also had land in Nacogdoches County, as well as 25 cattle and 7 horses. Diana Gilliland owned considerable real estate of her own and had two slaves and 30 cattle in the 1840 census of the Republic of Texas. [9] Gilliland and his family, along with Josiah Wilbarger and the Barker and Burleson families, "first penetrated the 'Little Colony'" where the "Lost Pines" near present Bastrop provided "a hiding place against the Indians." [10] Gilliland preached at Bastrop and, in the spring of 1835, organized a Methodist Church there, the first church in the settlement. In the spring of 1839, Rev. Gilliland was severely wounded in a battle with Lipan Indians in what would become Willamson County. Several units in the battle were commanded by general Edward Burleson, Capt. Jesse Billingsley, Capt. Jacob "Jake" Burleson. Rev. Gilliland died ten days after the battle. [11]

Census records reveal this information about Rice and his family: census of the Travis County Republic of Texas. 1840. lists "Jas. Rice"; no property listed; U. S. Census, Williamson County, Texas, Sept. 16, 1850.

James 0. Rice, 35, farmer, born S. C.; $15,000 taxable real estate. Nancy D. Rice, 25, housewife, born in Texas.

Elizabeth Rice, 2, was born in Texas.

Mary E. Fox: 13, born in Germany, also in the household.

U. S. Census, Williamson County, Texas, July 20, 1860:

James O. Rice, 44, farmer, horn Illinois [sic]; $10,000 taxable real estate;$500 personal estate.

Elizabeth A. Rice, 12, was born in Texas.

Sarah F. Rice, 10, was born in Texas.

Ameallia [sic] M. Rice 6, born Texas. (Apparently, the name is correctly written or Almeda Melissa.)

Allies [sic] Rice, 4, born in Texas. (Correct name: Alice D.)

U. S. Census, Austin (as opposed to Austin City listings), Travis County, Texas, Sept. 12, 1870:

James Rice, 54, farmer, born S. C. $1,000 taxable real estate; $100 personal estate.

Melissa Rice, 16, was born in Texas. "Keeping house."

Alice Rice, 14, born Texas. "At home."

Rice's wife, Nancy, died sometime prior to the April 1860 term of' Williamson County Probate Court, at which time James 0. Rice was present and petitioned Chief Justice J. E. King, to appoint Charles Sauls, James, and Benjamin Allen (neighbors near Rice's Crossing) to appraise and value the community property belonging to him and his "late deceased wife." The inventory was submitted and signed by Rice on April 30, 1860, with the following common property and evaluations: 14 head horses, $80.85; 272 acres land on Brushy Creek, $544, less 45 acres at $15 per acre; 472 acres land on Colorado River, Travis County, $645; 35 headstock cattle, $210; 30 headstock hogs, $60; 1 yoke oxen, $35. [12]

No record of marriages of the two older daughters, Elizabeth A. and Sarah F. have been located either in Williamson or Travis Counties, but James 0. Rice stated that both were married prior to June 1871. [13] Almeda Melissa, the third eldest daughter, married Newton Owen Sneed, Dec. 25, 1370. John Henry Ziveley, a Presbyterian minister who lived near Bluff Springs, Austin, and who ministered to churches in central Texas, officiated. The Sneed family home at Comal Bluff was located near Bluff Springs. [14]

In September 1871, James 0. Rice and his attorneys petitioned the Travis County Probate Court for permission to sell 136 acres of land in Travis County belonging to his youngest daughter, Alice D., to pay for her education and maintenance. Rice stated that her education "is limited and very imperfect” and that he had no property of his own with which to support her. The Court allowed the sale. Carefully itemized

Bills were submitted during 1872, 1873, and 1874 for Alice's expenses. These included statements for board and tuition; dresses at 50 and 75 cents each; four chemises for $2; a "polonese" dress for $2; candy, ink paper, thread, fans, braid, ribbon, a box of paint, pair of "hoes," muslin, pins and needles, starch gloves, lace collar, hotties extract, penholder and cap, sheeting, lawn, shoes, buttons, and calico. One of the boardings, statements was from Mrs.Marinda Sneed, for Alice's board from May 10 to August 1873, $30. The June 1874 District Court of Travis County declared that Alice D. Rice was no longer a minor, so her father's Guardianship was closed and a full accounting completed by July 8, 1874. [15]

Alice D. Rice and Francis W.. Crow were married on Nov. 10, 1875, by Avert Brown, Justice of the Peace, Precinct I, Austin. Mrs. Alice D. Crow was buried Nov. 5, 1913, in Oakwood Cemetery, Austin. [16]

James C. Rice was in Texas at least by 1835. He was then 20 and a private in the Texas Revolutionary Army. He was in John J. Tumlinson's frontier ranger company, created in October-November 1835 by the Texas Provisional Government and authorized to build a fort near the headwaters of Brushy Creek. [17] Tumlinson and 60 seen, including Rice, went to Block House Creek early in January 1836 and built a log fort (south of present Leander). They remained there until they were recalled to Bastrop early in March to protect frontier families fleeing from Santa Anna and his Mexican forces who were marching into Texas. Tunlinson's unit was then ordered to San Jacinto but arrived after the battle was over. [18] Rice received bounties totaling 1230 acres of land for his service from Oct. 12, 1836, to April 12, 1837. He again served from June to December 1837, participating in October in a fight with Indians at Stone House, 200 miles from the nearest settlement, and was awarded a bounty of 640 acres. [19]

Rice was one of fifteen men who occupied Kenney's Fort when it was completed in the spring of 1833 at Brushy Cove on Brushy Creek where the Double File Trail crossed the stream.

The Fort consisted of "four log cabins with portholes on the exposed sides and was enclosed with a picket stockade of logs about eight feet high, with wide, strong- gates on the east and west. It fronted north on the bluff of Brushy Creek, and the east side was near the branch." Rice lived there until 1840, [20], according to W. K. Makemson, but the following narratives suggest that he was away frequently.

One account describes a buffalo hunt on the Colorado River, or: organized by General Lamar, who had an escort of six rangers, including James C. Rice, in the fall of 1837 or 1838. At the end of the hunt, the men assembled on a hill where the present State Capitol of Texas stands. Tamar looked out to the valley covered with wild rye, to the mountains up the river, and to "the charming, view to the south" and declared, "This should be the seat of future Empire. [21]

Rice's most notable military exploits and probably his greatest con­tribution to his adopted state took place in May 1839 when he "commanded the small company which captured crucial, revealing documents telling of widespread plots against the Texans by Mexico and the Indians. Rice's role has been described in varying detail by respected historians who judged the encounter second only in importance to the Battle of San Jacinto in relation to Texas independence. [22]

The story began in 1836 when the Mexican government started plans for ­a general war over all of Texas.

Frontier Indians were to be incited to “hang on to the border, and harass the Texans, destroy their trade, break up their commerce, burn their homes, and divide the spoils, accord­ing to Indian custom. [23] If groups of Texans gathered in large bodies, the Indians were instructed to hover close by and hold them together while other bands plundered their settlements. [24] General Valantin Canalizo of Matamoros was in charge of the plot. Early in 1839, he wrote about the intrigue to Vicente Cordova, who was directing the insurgents at Nacogdoches, and to the chiefs of the Seminoles and Caddoes, and to Big Mush and Bowles of the Cherokees. Cordova, in turn, wrote to Manuel Flores, a Mexican agent, that the Cherokees would cooperate. [25] He Cordova returned to Mexico briefly, and in the spring of 1839, he and Flores and their soldiers left for Texas. Settlers spotted their trail near the Colorado River, assumed they were Indians, and gathered a volunteer force in case they proved hostile. The volunteers included Col. Edward Burleson, James 0. Rice, Jesse Billingsley, and “Mike" Andrews. They trailed Cordova toward Seguin and, in a skirmish March 28-30, killed 30 of the Mexican force and took several prisoners. Cordova escaped and returned to Mexico, and Flores and some of his men eluded the volunteers, moving farther into Texas. [26] Among the prisoners was a 200-pound French Negro named Raphael, who was extremely antagonistic toward his captors, warning the Texans that he would never cooperate with them. He was court marshaled and sentenced to be shot. Andrews assigned six rangers to the firing squad. Rice was not chosen, so he offered five dollars to any one of the six men who would give him his place. The trade was made, but Rice's gun failed on the signal to fire. Rice remarked, here, my run snapped, for the first time in my life. [27]

Settlers along the Colorado River were averted that Flores was at large and ranging companies were forced to protect the settlements.

One was headed by Capt. Mike Andrews and Lt. James G. Rice. About May 15, late in the afternoon, Rice and B. B. Castleberry went scouting on Onion Creek south of Austin, hunting deer for supper when they stumbled onto what proved to be Flores' trail, made by a large number of horses and leading north. Rice and Castleberry hurried to camp with the news. Andrews was convinced it was Flores' trial, was determined to follow. They found where the trail went under a "stooping tree" and could count 25 or 30 horses that had gone around the tree, indicating that they had riders and that many more horses had gone under the low hanging limbs. They were somewhat uncertain of this estimate of the enemy

There were 27 in the Texas group. [28] One of the civilians, Wayne Barton Wayne, believed the Mexicans vastly outnumbered Andrews, warned they might all be slaughtered. Flores had moved into a cedar brake. Captain decided to turn his men toward home. A. J. "Ad" Adkisson wanted to pursue Flores, however, and after riding about three miles toward hone, he asked permission of the Captain to do so, alone with any others who wished to join him. Andrews assented, saying that he would join in the search, but he released those who did not care to continue the pursuit. Six men continued toward home, leaving 21 Texans to hunt Flores. Andrews turned west on the trail, made camp that night north of the Colorado River "near the mountains." They went into the mountains at a rapid gait the next morning. [29]

But a hard rain the previous night soon made the trail harder to find in what was already difficult terrain. To compound the problem, Captain Andrews' horse became lame. Andrews weighed about 200 pounds, and there was nothing for him to do but turn hack. Two other men with disabled horses joined him and the three-headed for home—this left Lt. Rice in command, with seventeen other men in his force. The company moved as best they could, considering all their horses were tired and many lame from the long chase. The trail finally led onto the prairies, and they reached the South a Gabriel River, southeast of present liberty Hill, about 2 p. m., May 17. The Mexicans had camped near a good spring on the river the previous night, had "nooned and cut down a bee tree." Texas had not settled when the rangers came along, so they knew the Mexicans were not far ahead. Flores had left only four campfires, suggesting a relatively small number in his company. Rice hurried the pursuit. Two of his men went ahead to scout and soon signaled for the others to dismount and cut switches, for the Mexicans were just over the hill a quarter of a mile away. As the Texans approached, Flores tried to maneuver and lose the enemy, but Rice and his men charged ahead until Flores was caught at a steep bluff on the south bank of the North San Gabriel River. The bluff was too steep to descend. Flores and his men were cornered. Flores charged and fired, but William Wallace, the first Texan ready for action, fired and Flores fell from his horse. He was shot through the heart. Two other Mexicans were killed. The remainder of their small party fled, abandoning their extra horses, mules, baggage, arms, and supplies. The rangers collected about 114 horses and mules, 300 pounds of powder, shot, balls and bar lead, and ether items. The "other items" proved by far the most significant, for they included numerous official documents and letters detailing the plot between general Canalizo, Cordova, and various Indian tribes of sexes against the Republic of Texas. Not until this point did the Texans realize the extent and danger of this widespread plan." [30]

Flores' companions apparently fled to a crossing they had located on the North Gabriel and on toward the mountains beyond.

The rangers were exhausted, and their horses in poor condition, so they did not follow. The eighteen weary Texans rode five or six miles to their recent crossing on the South Gabriel to make camp for the night, where Flores had teen the night before. There they met Capt. James P. Owensby and 30 rangers were sent as reinforcements for Rice. Owensby’s men asked for their share of the spoils, but Rice's men declined since they had done all the fighting.

Owensby’s company refused to share their food and guard with Rice's soldiers. The next day, Rice and company moved on toward Austin, meeting Col. Edward Burleson and another party of men, who offered provisions without asking for a share of the booty. Rice and company stopped long enough to eat and then continued to Austin. [31]

In describing the affair, Walter Prescott Webb, the historian, states that this is probably one of the most important fights that ever took place in Texas. Col. Burleson's official report stated, "This Lt. Rice and his seventeen gallant men deserve the highest esteem." [32]

James O. Rice's name is on the "Muster Rolls of Certain Select Frontier Forces, 1839 to 1841" under Col. Edward Burleson; "Muster Roll, Capt. Micah Andrews' Rangers, March 10-June 10, 1839"; the "First Texas Ranger" list, under Capt. Nelson Merrell; was with the Bastrop Rangers June 10 to Sept. 10, 1839, and "Spies for Travis County" under Capt C. N. Dolson, April 8 to May 20, 1841. [33]

Rice was with Somarvell's troops slated to invade Mexico in 1842, and remained with the men who entered Mier, Mexico.

He fought Dec. 25-26 in the battle of Mier, was wounded, captured, and hospitalized, but managed to escape two days later. In an application for pension filed by Rice on October 10, 1870, he further described the Mier events. He was in Capt.M. Pierson's Company under Fisher's command. His wound caused by a ball fired by a Mexican was about two inches, and to the left of the right nipple, the wound penetrating to the hollow. The wounded prisoners were confined in a church of Mier "for two Sundays," after which Rice and seven others bribed their guard and escaped to Texas. On Sept. 29, he was paid $40 for Mier services Oct. 17, 1842, to Feb. 17, 1843; and on Oct. 15, 1850, an additional sum for 24 months' service on the Mier Expedition. [34]

From late April to early August 1843, Rice was guided for an expedition led by Col. Jacob Snively, who planned to intercept and attack a caravan of goods heading for Mexico. [35]

By 1846, Rice must have decided to lead a more settled life, for he began collecting his land bounties and acquiring additional property. He and Nance D. Gilliland were married in Travis County on Nov. 5, 1846, and settled at Blue hill on Brushy Creek South after.

Among Rice's land acquisitions were 640 acres for $200, Aug. 3, 1846; 370 acres, Aug. 6, 1846; 640 acres for $100, Sept. 1, 1846--most of the foregoing being along with Brushy Greek; 5 acres for $100, Dec. 27, 1856, located at Round Rock; 40 acres for $400 (Confederate money) Jan. 1, 1863, located between the two forks of the San Gabriel River, near where the present Georgetown Country Club stands; 640 acres for $1,600 (Confederate bills) Nov. 5, 1863, on Berry's Greek. [36] Rice's 1850 census listing of 415,000 in real estate was the fourth largest in the county at that time. [36]

James 0. Rice chose for his home site a place on the north bank of Brushy Creek, then known as Blue hill for the bluish shale or soapstone banks south of the creek ---- it was in the heart of Blacklands and south of present Taylor. A few decades later, the community was renamed Rice's Crossing in honor of Rice, and it still goes by that name. Among Rice's neighbors up and down Brushy Creek were other pioneer families, including Bartlett Simms, Avery, Daniel Kimbro, David F. Knight, Zara Stearns, Joseph Kuykendall, Matthias Wilbarger, and Calvin Barker. [37]

Early in 1848, Rice and Washington Anderson, who lived on Brushy Creek east of present Round Rock, circulated a petition to form a new county, which would become Williamson County.

They had identical documents for signatures except that one suggested the county be named "Clear Water" and the other suggested "San Gabriel." Rice signed "James 0. Rice" on one of the sheets. Dated Feb. 2, 1348, .the petition may have been worded by Rice and Anderson. One is written in Anderson's distinctive hand: the other, in a different hand, may have been written by Rice. The State Legislature approved the creation of the new county on March 13, 1348, and in the same act appointed J. 0. Rice and five other commissioners to select the county seat. The six men met in May 1848 under a large live oak tree a mile south of the confluence of the two forks of the San Gabriel. They were offered free land if that site was chosen, and the town named Georgetown for one of the donors. The offer was accepted, and the site was determined. [38]

The first civil suit of the county, C. Hamilton vs. James 0. Rice was considered in October 1848 District court, also held under the live oak tree where the county seat was selected. The case was "trespass to try title" and not settled until nearly two decades later. [39]

Droves of wild cattle lived along Brushy creek, and most of the pioneer residents of that area became leading cattlemen of the county. Nancy D. Rice registered her own cattle brand with the County Clerk on March 29, 1849. J. W., and J. 0. Rice listed their brand, "J 0," in the same book, but no date is given for the registration. No other mention has been found in Williamson County records of J. W. Rice, and he was not in the 1850 census of the county. After Nancy D. Rice's death in 1860, the list of community property included 35 head of stock cattle. [40]

James C. Rice became postmaster of a new post office, established Nov. 12, 1849, at Blue Hill, the second post office in the county. (It is believed that Rice was running his small store by the time the post office opened). Mann, who did some research on Rice in the 1930s, stated that Rice operated a tavern at Blue Hill. [41] Rice continued his postmastership until the office was discontinued on April 10, 1857. [42]

Judging from the deed records, Rice bought his 40 acres near Georgetown on Jan. 1, 1863, on which to establish a tan-yard.

Apparently, during the year he took a partner, Peter B. Wills, for it was only a year later, Jan. 15, 1864, that Rice sold the 40 acres. The deed mentions as part of the transaction 71/2 acres “whereupon is the tan-yard of the late firm of Rice and Wills.” Rice sold his interest in the business and the land to Wills, including “the stock and materials fixtures for tanning & location on land between the north and south San Gabriel near Georgetown.” [43] No other information about the tan-yard has been found other than that contained in the deed.

The title suit of M.C. Hamilton vs. James O. Rice, first considered in October 1848, was similar to others filed by Hamilton against a number of citizens along Brushy Creek such as Willis Avery, Calvin Barker, Reuben Hornsby, Bartlett Sims/Simms, and about eight others. Rice’s case came up periodically, but was continued until Oct. 11, 1850, when a jury found for the defendant “on account of fraud” and declaring that Hamilton had obtained a title to the land in question through fraudulent means and that Rice had a “valid and subsisting location and survey upon the said land.” The plaintiff moved for a new trial, was overruled; he then gave notice of appeal to the Supreme Court. The case reopened, however, at District Court of Williamson County, and on March 12, 1867, the Court ruled for Hamilton, who was to take possession of one-third league of land on the north side of Brushy Creek from Rice. (44)

It appears safe to assume that Rice moved from Williamson County to Travis County, in or near Austin, between the time he sold his tan-yard early in 1864 and the enumeration of the Travis County census of 1870.

For whatever reasons, his finances were in poor shape. He was physically incapacitated by October 10, 1870, when he applied for an annual pension of $500 for his service in the Mexican War, as the application reveals. [45] He was granted the pension in Certificate No. 71, dated Oct. 25, 1870. Economic pressures must have continued to mount, for on July 15, 1874, Rice transferred his Pension Certificate No. 71 to E. Penn "for a valuable consideration... on which there is due $1,750, " giving Penn the right to claim and own the certificate thereafter. [4] Whether it was legal at that time to make such a transfer has not been checked out, but the point is that the incident reveals Rice's circumstances. One can speculate that Rice's financial losses from the position in 1850 of the fourth largest landholder in Williamson County to one of financial need in 1870 could be explained by several known (and possibly some unknown) factors. The long-drawn-out litigation for Rice's land grant, which suits Rice finally lost, covered the years 1848 through 1867, and, no doubt, required extensive attorneys' fees. The exchange of land during the 1860s indicates that Rice dealt in Confederate money, as revealed in the deeds already cited, which could have brought heavy losses to Rice. Probate and Pension records in Travis County from 1870 to 1874 tell of Rice's failing health. All these factors may have contributed to his losses.

Rice's record speaks for itself as worthy of commemoration.

In addition, the statements of Dr. Walter Prescott Webb, historian, and Col. Edward Burleson, Rice's commanding officer, both already cited, indicate Rice's notable contribution to his state. Such a commemoration may also aid in setting the record straight regarding one article about James O. Rice in the Southwestern Historical Quarterly for July 1951, in which the research was incomplete and thus led to some faulty conclusions. The Williamson County Historical Commission is happy to honor Rice's service with the Texas Rangers, his founding of Williamson County, his service in the Texas Revolution and War with Mexico, and his contributions as a citizen of this county.


Early Spanish expeditions crossed central Texas near Blue Hill, as did the Comanche did to east Texas via Fort Tenoxtitlán or Nashville on the Brazos. The Austin mail route 6188 went through Blue Hill. A much used Cattle Trial 9 used the Colorado at Webberville, Brushy Creek at Rice’s crossing and intersected the Western Trail at near Georgetown. The site was about 1 mile west of the present Rice’s Crossing Store.

Road Map to Rice's crossing

5 miles south on FM 973 at FM1660

GPS Coordinates

Latitude: 30.481059- Longitude: -97.457013

Cemeteries at Rice's Crossing

Avery #1

There are 2 cemeteries listed under Avery - also see Rice's Crossing on the left is Mike Young - right side is John Christeson Mike is in the processes of restoring the cemetery

From the intersection of FM-973 and FM-1660 continue east on FM-1660 until you see a mailbox with 16101 on it. Take the driveway north past the house and two large metal storage sheds to the gate in the fence. One large gravestone with four names on it is just behind the shed to the west when you pass through the gate. There was once a fence around the gate that has been trampled down by the cows pastured here over the years.






After Restoration - Courtesy Terry & Gayle Smith June 2017

This is the cemetery site of one of the Texas War of Independence fighters Biography

AVERY, WILLIS THOMAS (1809~1889) Willis Thomas Avery, Republic of Texas Veteran and Texas Ranger, was born in North Carolina on October 15, 1809, to Vincent and Catherine Overton Avery. After the death of his father, Avery's mother married William McCutcheon, Sr. and moved to Lincoln County, Missouri. The McCutcheons had one son, William.

While in Missouri, Avery met and married, Elzina Weeks, who was born on November 10, 1812. Together, they had nine children, Nancy, Malinda, Vincent, Willis, Lucinda, Henry, Calvin, Harriet, and W. T. On November 12, 1832, the Avery's arrived in what is now Bastrop County. In 1836, Avery's mother and her third husband, Gordon, or Joseph, Jennings, and their family joined the rest of the family in Texas.

During Texas' fight for independence, Avery's step-father, Jennings, was said to have perished at the siege of the Alamo, while Avery joined Captain Jesse Billingsley's Company of Mina (Bastrop) Volunteers on February 28, 1836. The Mina Volunteers eventually became Company C of General Edward Burleson's regiment, fought at the Battle of San Jacinto. Company C was made up of settlers who lived in and around Bastrop County.

Because of his service for Texas, Avery was issued, on May 22, 1838, 640 acres of land. On March 20, 1840, he also received another 320 acres for serving in the army from February 28 to June 1, 1836.

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Ultimately, the Avery's moved to Williamson County and settled on Brushy Creek, near Rice's Crossing, where Elzina died on March 1, 1870. Willis died on July 17, 1889, and both were buried in the family cemetery on their property. On July 3, 1938, Avery's remains were moved to the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.

Information is taken from biography compiled by Louis W. Kemp and the San Jacinto Monument website,


A member of
Captain Jesse Billingsley's
Company at San Jacinto
Born in North Carolina
October 15, 1809
Died in Williamson County, Texas
July 17, 1889

His Wife

Elzina (Weeks) Avery

Born in Missouri
November 10, 1812
Died in Williamson County, Texas
March 1, 1870

Erected by the State of Texas

(a special thanks to Margaret Ann Crislip for saving these slices of history for us to read)

Avery #1

Google Map

GPS Coordinates
Latitude: 30.480883956463497 Longitude: -97.44550687792139

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on findagrave.com

Avery #2 - Rice's Crossing

Also known as Stiba Cemetery, Avery Cemetery, Kimbro Cemetery

Also known as Stiba Cemetery, Avery Cemetery, Kimbro Cemetery. This cemetery is only about a mile from the other Avery smaller Cemetery. This cemetery is nestled in a grove of trees near the southeast corner of the intersection of FM 973 and FM 1660 - see satellite map.

Google Map

GPS Coordinates
Latitude: 30.480597 - Longitude: -97.44534

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on findagrave.com

to clean and preserve the Rice's Crossing cemetery
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Aaron Gasu, Alex Kauai, Dathan Kauai, James Gordon, Harrison Knittle, Dalton Knittle, Brandon Bostick, Blake Borgholthaus, Zachary Gordon, Seve King

Gabriel Matuk, Erin Nevins, Aubria Hunt, Lauren Case, Vicki Sandoval, Elis Nevins, Michael Nevins, Leigh Gasu, Peter Gordon, Grant Borgholthaus, Steven Mroz, Bonnie Mroz, Randall Belnap, Byron Rolfe, Dan Olson, Joey Belanger, Aaron Mildenstein, Keith Kooyman, Eric Harlow, Russell Eldredge, Chris King, Kelly Bird, Amy Bird, Sharon Case, Dawn Bellamare, Carole Sutton, Jackie Borgholthaus, Meagan Borgholthaus, Page Borgholthaus, Jason Borgholthaus

We will be cleaning up a historic graveyard located on the Southside of FM 1660 between the Stiba farm and FM 973. The cleaning will consist of weed eating and mowing about 1 acre of property, remove fallen and overgrown trees and brush, create a sign for the cemetery, and correct any fallen gravestones. This cemetery has not been cared for properly for several years. It is in great disrepair. The grass alone is over 3' high in most places. There is only a couple of gravestones that can be seen above the grass. There are several trees and branches that have fallen over the years, as well as new growth, which need to be cleaned up. This was originally a family graveyard that belonged to the neighbors, Mr. & Mrs. Stiba, who are concerned, as they are only able to upkeep their own family's graves. There was another person who used to care for it by spraying to keep the weeds out but passed away a few years ago. This is one of the oldest graveyards in Williamson County, as it has Civil War graves within.

This will beautify and repair the Rice's Crossing Cemetery (also known as the Stiba Cemetery, Avery Cemetery, and Kimbro Cemetery) that is in extreme disrepair. It will allow people to come and visit the graveyard and search for their ancestors. This is a Historic Site and needs a great amount of attention to bring it up to par. People researching their genealogy will be able to visit and see the graves of those whom they search for. It will also allow others to have a great starting point to maintain the property in a proper manner.

The current condition of the cemetery is very bad. It has not been maintained for many years. The grass and weeds are about 3' high. There are fallen trees and branches, and new growth that needs to be removed. The cemetery is about 1 acre in size.

What we are planning to do first is have a group of people with weed eaters carefully edge around the headstones without damaging them, as some are very old and fragile, starting by the road and working their way through the high grass to the far side. Upon returning, they will cut the remaining grass between the headstones. Following them, there will be a team of people using rakes and wagons or wheelbarrows to pick up a large amount of grass and weeds that will be cut down. The grass/weeds will be placed on a trailer and hauled away to the home of Steve Mroz, a neighbor, where they will be burned. We will also have some adults with chain saws that will cut up the fallen limbs and trees, as well as the new growth. Another group will pick up the wood and put it on a trailer for removal from the site and disposed of it properly. After cleaning up the site, we will see what gravestones and markers have been pushed over or moved and put them back in their place. The headstones that are damaged will be reported to Williamson County for repairs. A group of people will then photograph and put the gravestone name and location on a map so a final headstone map and picture can be donated to the Moody Museum in Taylor, TX. People will be able to see the actual headstone picture and the exact location of the headstone on the map. A sign for the cemetery will be made and put up. There are no current signs or markers for this cemetery. A handcrafted wood sign will be made with a router and posted in front of the cemetery. The sign will also have the information on the Moody Museum location and hours of operation, so people can get a map of the cemetery and see the headstone with rubbings, if needed, they may be looking for. A copy of the map and pictures of the headstones will be given to the relatives of the deceased.